Update, 7:03 p.m. The Wall Street Journal now reports Olympic officials have granted the U.S. speed skating team the right to abandon the Under Armor suits that were allegedly holding them back. — Connor Simpson
Original: The U.S. speed skating team sought permission from Olympic officials on Friday to switch out the problematic Under Armour suits that some on the team believe are causing athletes' repeated underperformance in the games, Ted Morris, U.S. Speedskating executive director, said.
A design flaw in the high-tech and highly-anticipated uniforms — specifically, the vents on the back of the suits — are believed to be letting air in instead of pushing heat out, creating a drag and slowing down skaters in the low position required for speed.
While the request doesn't mean that American skaters will be wearing different suits when they compete again on Saturday, so far no American skater has finished above seventh place.
According to Morris, the speed skating team is divided between those who want to keep the current model and those who want to switch to an alternate suit, also made by Under Armour, which was used to coast to high rankings during fall competitions. (The current suits were heavily tested, but not used in competition until Sochi.) Rules require that all team members wear the same suits, so the switch must be all or nothing.
"The general feeling from the athletes, it's pretty darn close to 50-50," Morris said. He wouldn't give any details of the top skaters' positions. Under Armour spoke to Bloomberg TV about their suits being a drag and say they will continue to work to improve them, but have not responded to reports about U.S. Speedskating looking to switch.